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March 5, 2011
GREENSBORO, NC – The top-seeded Duke Blue Devils advanced to their fourth consecutive ACC Women’s Basketball Championship Game with a 74-66 win over the fifth-seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon in the Greensboro Coliseum. The seventh-ranked Blue Devils withstood an aggressive second-half comeback attempt by the Yellow Jackets and will play the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal game between Miami and North Carolina on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Duke led by as many as 13 points and withstood a second-half run by Georgia Tech that saw the Jackets close to within two with 7:14 to play. Sasha Goodlett’s layup made it a 55-53 game, but Georgia Tech would get no closer. Karima Christmas scored 12 of her team-high 20 points in the second half as Duke held off the Yellow Jackets.
“I thought Karima was just incredible with her strength,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. “I thought she made incredible, well-placed baskets – pretty physical ones with a lot of people hanging on. I thought she did a great job of that.”
Duke shot 68 percent from the field in the first half to take a 39-29 lead into the locker room and tied its largest lead of the game just out of the gate on Jasmine Thomas’ three-pointer just 15 seconds into the half. The first-team All-ACC selection finished the game with 12 points and a game-high five assists.
“I’m very spoiled with the caliber of players I have,” McCallie said. “There’s a lot you can do with them – what I ask them do, they go out and do it.”
After relying on the outside shot in the first half, the Jackets turned to their inside game in the second period. Georgia Tech, which scored just two points in the paint in the first half, scored 14 in the paint after halftime.
A day after outrebounding the nation’s third-best rebounding team (Maryland), Georgia Tech once again dominated the boards. The Yellow Jackets claimed a 35-26 rebounding advantage, including a 21-12 margin in the second half. Georgia Tech took advantage of its dominance on the boards, outscoring Duke 11-2 on second-chance points after halftime. It was just the fifth time this season the Blue Devils were outrebounded.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I thought we battled out there very hard for 40 minutes. I mean, anytime you can outrebound Duke and Maryland back-to-back, for two consecutive days, that shows a lot of heart and hustle. I have nothing but respect for my players and how hard they competed.”
Metra Walthour scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Yellow Jackets. Her five three-pointers also established a new career high for the junior co-captain. Tyaunna Marshall added 19 points and Alex Montgomery recorded her 11th double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Jackets.
With the win, Duke improved to 28-3. Georgia Tech fell to 23-10 on the year.
Game 9 Notes:
Duke has won 33 consecutive meetings with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets’ last victory over Duke was Feb. 27, 1994, in Atlanta. Duke leads the series with Georgia Tech 54-7. In the ACC Tournament, the Blue Devils are 5-0 against the Yellow Jackets.
Duke made its 17th consecutive appearance in the semifinals of the tournament. The Blue Devils also have won five consecutive tournament games and played in the championship contest four years in a row and 10 of the past 12 seasons.
Duke forward Karima Christmas tied her season high with 20 points, equaling the totals in games against BYU and Temple. Christmas’ career high is 25 points, set in her junior year against Maryland.
Georgia Tech guard Metra Walthour established a career high for 3-pointers by making five on Saturday. Walthour previously had hit four 3-pointers in three games. She made a halfcourt shot at the halftime buzzer, banking in a shot to cut Duke’s lead to 39-29. Walthour tied her career high with 19 points.
Duke center Krystal Thomas, with three blocked shots in the first five minutes Saturday, moved into a tie for 14th in ACC history with 195. Georgia Tech’s Kasha Terry also had 195 from 2003-05.
Duke is 37-27 all-time in the tournament. The Blue Devils rank fourth in tournament wins behind North Carolina (53 before its Saturday semifinal), Maryland (46) and N.C. State (39). Duke improved to 11-6 in the semifinals.
Since 2000, no team has more tournament victories than Duke (28). UNC is second with 22, and Maryland was third with 12.
Georgia Tech is 11-31 in the ACC Tournament and made its fifth appearance in the semifinals, including its second in successive seasons. Georgia Tech’s semifinal record is 1-4.
The tournament’s No. 1 seed has won nine of the last 10 titles.